Dreams Really Do Come True!

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Remember way back in February when I announced all I really want to do this summer is go to Wanderlust Festival in Lake Tahoe? Well, dreams really do come true. I was lucky enough to attend this year’s festival and had a blast working on my yoga and meditation practice, meeting new friends and exploring a new part of the California. It was heaven.

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Just getting around to posting my photos, which are up on Peek now. Here’s a few I took with my new yoga buddies around gorgeous Lake Tahoe.

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Who’s that dreamy man you ask? Well, that’s Benn Rasmussen, a deeply talented yoga instructor I had the pleasure of sharing a house with. When in NYC do yourself a favor and take a class with him at Kula Yoga Project or Equinox.

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Happy Summer!

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Some More Please, Easy (Open-Faced) Campfire S’mores

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No camping trip would be complete without a round of S’mores. Abby and I, with a few modifications, carried out the tradition every night we were in Big Sur. In my opinion it’s all about the ingredients. As with all things food, organic is best, but buy the best you can afford. We headed to Whole Foods for graham crackers, good chocolate and for the main attraction, marshmallows, we went with gourmet brand Plush Puffs. They did not disappoint. Plush Puffs have an excellent texture, creamy consistency without the powdery, over-sugary taste you get with conventional marshmallows.

Directions below for our open faced S’mores. Although they’d be just as good the customary way.

Open Faced S’mores (makes 2)

You will need:
-Graham Crackers
-Marshmallows (We love Plush Puffs in vanilla)
-Chocolate Bar
-Aluminum Foil
-Fire Resistant Poker (A stick will do)

Start by tearing off a large square of foil and fold in half. Place directly on to the grill grate. Tear off two smaller squares and fold down-about 3 times until you have a nice square.

First place half a graham cracker on the foil, let it get toasty. About 1 minute. Then take your chocolate square and place it directly on to your toasty graham cracker. Let the chocolate melt. About 2 minutes. When the chocolate has started to melt, place your marshmallow onto your poker and hover above the fire. You can get a little closer if you want a little char. Carefully roast the marshmallow about 2 minutes. Just when your marshmallow is all gooey place it onto your melted chocolate.

We liked to eat ours open-faced but you are more than welcome to add the other half of graham cracker at this point. Let cool slightly, then enjoy!

Stars, Stripes and Solo Cups: A 4th of July Beach Blowout

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We went to an epic 4th of July party down on the beach in Playa Del Rey where I ran around all night exclaiming “I feel 19 again!”. Just got around to posting photos on my Tumblr page, Peek. Check them out and relive the magic!

Big Moments, Big Sur: Camping on the California Coast

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You never know what life has in store for you: Abby and I thought we were just getting away for a long weekend of camping on the California coast. It turned out to be a magical weekend spent with each other and the earth. I highly suggest getting outside this summer, turning off your phone (or even better, go somewhere with no cell reception) and connect with yourself and someone you love.

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*Tip: Kirk Creek Campground was our first choice and after scouring countless online forums and Yelp, I knew we would have to get an early start if we wanted to snag one of their highly coveted oceanfront sites.
I can't remember the last time I watched the sunrise. I had to pull over and capture the moment.

I can’t remember the last time I watched the sunrise. I had to pull over and capture the moment.

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We left LA at 3AM and arrived at Kirk at 7AM only to find two cars ahead of us. I might be on my way to becoming a chilled out Angeleno but the New Yorker in me came out and I fiercely snagged us a gorgeous site right on the ocean.

Fresh coffee, roadside? This guy had the right idea!

Fresh coffee, roadside? This guy had the right idea!

This really is a do-nothing kind of vacation.

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If it’s your first time in Big Sur I would definitely check out the waterfall at Julia Pfeiffer Burns Sate Park and Pfeiffer Beach. Alternatively, Headlands Trail in Andrew Molera State Park offers gorgeous views of the somewhat mild beach down below.

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*Tip: If you have the time I highly suggest night bathing at Esalen Institute. The hot springs overlooking the Pacific Ocean is an experience I can not fully express in words. You’ll just have to see for your self! Night swimming is open to the public from 1am-3am daily, by reservation only.

With the exception of breakfast, we pretty much cooked our own food. Breakfast, we learned on our first morning in Big Sur, is not only a time to get a hot cup of coffee but also the perfect opportunity to wash up! As rustic as this experience was I learned that running water is AMAZING. My day is just not right without a few splashes of water here, there and everywhere else. Our favorite breakfast spot was Deetjens Restaurant and the last morning we treated ourselves to Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant. You can’t go wrong with either.

Yes, that's me enjoying a hot dog. But they were all natural, all beef dogs by Fork in the Road. And they were delicious!

Yes, that’s me enjoying a hot dog, but they were all natural, all beef dogs by Fork in the Road. And they were delicious! Also, Abby and I have perfected the best open-faced smore’s you ever tasted. Yeah that’s right, I said open-faced, don’t hate. They’re amazing. Instructions here.

Kirk has what feels like a secret path that leads directly down to the rocky coast, it was fun to explore.

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Did I mention the sunsets? Another benefit to camping oceanside (in addition to to falling asleep as the waves crash against the mighty California coast) is that you will witness some of the most jaw dropping sunsets you’ve ever seen. Sit back, pour yourself a nice glass of wine and remember the sun rises in the East but it sets in the West!

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Same sky, same sun, different day.

Same sky, same sun, different day.

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Goodbye!

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Wanna see more from our trip? Head on over to my Tumblr page, Peek.

The Path…..Led Us To Ojai!

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Needing a change of scenery last week, Abby and I drove up to Ojai for the afternoon. Only 90 miles north of our fair city; Ojai is a magical quaint little town with some serious hippie vibes and the cleanest, sweetest smelling air you’ve ever inhaled.

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AJaunttoOjai11If ever in the area, check out Bart’s Books, Meditation Mount and the Farmer and the Cook.

Loving Ojai, Peek has more photos!

Our First Beach Day

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We had an unseasonably warm day early this May and it seemed those that could sneak off to the beach, did.

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I’ve been spending more time playing around on Tumblr than I have on this site. Right now, photography is my preferred method of communication. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?!

Interested in seeing my photos only? Skip on over to my page Peek.

When Life Gives You Zucchini….Make Zucchini Bread!

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I’ve been away from the blog. But really I’ve just been here. All February long my head was in a fog, then March came and went. The weather was so lovely when April rolled around that I just wanted to play outside; not sit at computer typing away. I guess that is one of the benefits to being a blogger, I can do whatever I want.

FromOur Garden2Abby and I got a plot in a community garden within walking distance from your apartment in Los Feliz! The garden has slowly become our little sanctuary. We love walking over to check on its progress, give it a little water, perhaps a little compost.

I have been using Pat Welsh’s Guide to Southern California Gardening and I have to say our plots are doing well! We naively planted two squash and two zucchini plants in March, having no clue want to expect. We now have (and probably through the summer) more squash than two people really need. After unloading a few on our neighbor I  sat and thought what to do with the rest: well zucchini bread of course!

HerbZuchinniBreadSavory Herb and Garlic Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread (makes 1 loaf)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, grease (with butter or coconut oil) a 9×5 inch loaf pan and set aside

Dry Ingredients
3 C Whole Wheat Flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
1 Tsp Salt
2 Flat Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Baking Soda
3 1/2 Tb of minced fresh Herbs (Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano or Marjoram whatever you have on hand)

Mix the dry ingredients together well and set aside

Wet Ingredients
2 Eggs lightly beaten
1 C Kefir, Yogurt or Buttermilk ( I used Greek yogurt)
1 1/2 C grated Zucchini (make sure you squeeze most of the liquid out with a clean dish towel or paper towel)
1/3 C Coconut Oil
1 Garlic Clove, minced

Mix the wet ingredients together.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet a little at a time, mix well. Pour the batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let zucchini bread cool in loaf pan for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the bread from the pan and cool completely before slicing. Enjoy with Earth Balance Coconut Spread!

Crushing On: March Edition!

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I’m having a little March Madness myself, and no I’m not talking about basketball. Here’s what’s Giving me a dose of Spring Fever!

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1. “David Bowie Is”
Abby and I are both huge David Bowie fans and we’d like nothing more than to jet off to London for this exciting exhibit exploring Bowie’s continued influence on music, art, fashion and design. The show runs through August 2013 at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, catch it if you can.

2. Nars “Jungle Red” Semi-Matte Lipstick
Despite what fashion magazines are heralding as the latest beauty trend, you can never go wrong with a fresh face and red lips, it’s classic. Don’t get bogged down with what shade of red to wear. I say try them all; starting with Jungle Red from Nars, roarrr!

3. Ascot Picnic Basket
Spring has definitely sprung in Los Angeles, which means it’s time for picnics in the park! This collapsible basket from Ascot is the perfect carry-all for your alfresco dining needs.

4. Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker
I love ice cream and I’m thinking it might be a little dangerous to make it at home. This compact model by Cuisinart makes only up to two quarts, so that’s diet friendly, right? No matter, with this poppy shade of blue brightening up my kitchen counter all summer long I’d say it’s well worth a few extra LB’s.

5. Marc by Marc Jacobs Drew Bloom Dress
Spring symbolizes new beginnings on so many levels. There are dreary taxes to complete, closets to clean, and my personal favorite adding a few new pieces to perk up the wardrobe. This season I am craving something pretty to flounce around in and this Marc by Marc Jacobs dress is perfect. Happy Spring!

Inspired Living: Meet Jenné Claiborne

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As Spring approaches it is my natural inclination to check in on the goals I set at the start of the year. Around 28, I started to see little white flags that the lifestyle I was leading was maybe not the healthiest.  It was definitely the most fun, but certainly not the healthiest. But, that’s what your 20’s are for, right?

This is the year I decided to get healthy, fit and strong. I’ve slowly been shedding bad habits, old patterns and unproductive processes. Now, at 30 with several moves behind me, I’ve finally had the strength and courage to take charge of my health. I’ve been so good about keeping on top of my exercise and mediation routine but I have to admit my diet has taken a few hits in the last couple of months. Looking for ways to reboot my eating plan I went to one of my favorite go-to health guides, Well & Good NYC and discovered vegan Chef Jenné Claiborne.

New York City based chef, health coach and blogger Jenné makes the vegan lifestyle seem so easy that I decided I had to chat with her. In our no holds barred conversation, Jenné and I discuss her guilty pleasure, meat and five things we can all do to get a little health back into our lives.

Chef Jenné Claiborne

Chef Jenné Claiborne

Let’s talk about plants, baby! What plants offer the best nutritional value and how much of it should I eat on a weekly basis? I tell people to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and plants. They all have different nutrient profiles, so that’s why it’s important to vary them if possible. Leafy greens are some of the most nutrient dense vegetables, so make sure you’re eating them daily. Obviously there are some nutritional superstars, like kale, quinoa and berries. Most plant-based foods offer vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, carbs and antioxidants.

I only eat plants! Leafy greens, other veggies, fruit, legumes, grains, nuts & seeds.

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How important is it to eat seasonally? Eating seasonally is important because the produce available is usually beneficial to our bodies at that moment. For example, in the spring there are many detoxifying foods available, like dandelion greens. The summer represents cooling foods like watermelon.

Was it hard to make the leap from vegetarian to vegan? To transition from vegetarian to vegan wasn’t too difficult. I just had to make up my mind that this is something I really needed to do for myself and for animals. I was eating yogurt and the occasional pizza as a vegetarian. Sometimes I’d bake with eggs and dairy too. Every time I ate these foods I felt guilty because I knew they were riddled with animal cruelty and exploitation. It made me feel uncomfortable, so I finally educated myself a little more and gave them up. I feel a lot better morally and my energy and digestion is so much better.

What have you gained the most from your vegan lifestyle? From being vegan I’ve gained an amazing passion to help others transition into this lifestyle. I was an actress before becoming vegan. I always loved food and cooking, but it wasn’t until I became vegan that I realized that doing what I’m doing now (inspiring and educating others) is my true purpose.

There are lots of diets out there…what are your thoughts on the Paleo diet? Being vegan I’m obviously not a big fan of the high-animal protein Paleo diet. I like to live life with as little violence as possible. I believe that plant based is the way to go. From my own experience, as well as the research I’ve studied, plant based protein can be just as good as animal protein. Also, plant based foods don’t come with the saturated fat like animal protein. Many studies have shown that high protein diets can be detrimental to your health. The Paleo diet does recommend eating grass fed, naturally raised, high quality animal protein (Thank God).

Real talk, do you miss MEAT?  I don’t miss meat. No way! I have never had red meat or pork, but I did grow up eating fish and chicken. If people knew the harm they were doing by eating a diet high in animal products, they might think twice. I have been especially concerned about animal welfare. People don’t usually like to accept animal cruelty, but when it comes to farmed animals we turn a blind eye.

Okay, what about ICE CREAM and COOKIES? I eat ice cream & cookies as a vegan. They are better than those made with animal products. There are a lot of baked goods that don’t need animal products to be delicious and with coconut milk, anything is possible.

Your were an actress? Wow, what a career shift….have you given it up completely? Can you share what happened in your life that brought you to this new path? I still go out for commercial auditions occasionally. However, I won’t go out for any food that isn’t vegan, so that limits me.

Serious acting I have completely given up, it wasn’t my passion. When I realized that I didn’t have any idea that I’d soon be a health coach and vegan chef. I just knew that I needed to do something with my passion for healthy food.

Do you ever have doubts? Nope, I never have doubts. I feel like my mission to educate and inspire people to live healthier lives is so important. I also think about the animals when I feel like giving up because things are so tough as a business owner.

Vegan Chef Jenné Claiborne

The people, the animals and the planet are my drive 100%.

I admire your courage to move away from one career path and bravely step into another; it’s inspiring. Now back to food! Be honest, what’s your guilty pleasure? My guilty pleasure is most definitely tortilla chips!!!!! Especially the chocolate or sweet potato ones from Food Should Taste Good. OMG, I’m crazy about those things but I don’t eat them often. Once I start it’s really hard to stop : ( If only tortilla chips were my guilty pleasure….

I read you come from a family of “fantastic home cooks”, is everyone in your family vegan/vegetarian?  I got my mom and Nana to give up dairy and poultry! No one in my family ever ate red meat or pork (no mammals), so that wasn’t an issue. I told them that their health would improve and filled them in on the industrialized farming system, and they were game to give it up.

How do you survive family gatherings, like Thanksgiving? Family gatherings are easy now. My Nana LOVES to learn new ways to prepare vegetables, so we have a lot more fun in the kitchen now. They still love fish though, and will make that for holidays. My favorite holiday centerpiece is the Lentil Loaf!! Lentil Loaf? I’ll have to get the recipe from you!

There is so much emphasis on diet (and it is important) but, what do you do to get moving? I’ve got so much energy. I always need to move. I take hot Vinyasa yoga, dance, Pilates and do interval training. At home I do short interval training videos, yoga, jumping jacks…anything to get my blood flowing. I also walk a lot, typical New Yorker.

Okay, I’m not ready to go vegetarian completely-maybe a few times a week, what are five easy things I can do to have a healthier diet?

Great! Okay, 5 things:

  1. Have a good reason for becoming a healthy eater. Is it for health? To lose weight? Better energy? Animals? Know why, and you’re more likely to stay on track and do what it takes to eat healthier. Like try new foods.
  2. Try a green smoothie. They’re great for breakfast and so tasty!
  3. Learn to cook some simple healthy recipes. They can be the foundation for you to explore even more. Check out my e-book 5 Ingredient Vegan. It’s free!
  4. Eat vegetables at every meal. Roast them, steam them, eat them raw, whatever you prefer. When you eat more veggies, you’ll crowd out the non-healthy stuff and start craving nutrition.
  5. Eat fresh fruit as a snack. Again, you’ll be crowding out the unhealthy food, and consuming more vitamins, minerals and fiber. Perfect for detox, and clearing bad stuff out of your body.

Bonus. Drink a lot of water if you don’t already

What are some things I should absolutely stay away from? I’d stay away from dairy and refined sugar. Milk gives you calcium and magnesium, but not as much or as high-quality as plants like dark leafy greens. Also, dairy allergy is super common. You might have one and not even know it until you give it up and start feeling better. It’s linked to higher rates of osteoporosis as well as breast and prostate cancer. Try non-dairy milk (almond, soy, coconut, etc…)

Refined sugar, like dairy, is addictive. It has no nutritional value, and makes people fat and sick. Try sweetening foods with fruit, coconut sugar, dried fruits like dates, maple syrup and stevia.

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To learn more about Chef Jenné Claiborne and her services check out The Nourishing Vegan or her blog Sweet Potato Soul. If you are in the New York area, hire Chef Jenné to cook dinner in your home, I’m sure you won’t regret it!

Running Through My Mind…

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Mercury is in retrograde, it’s now the year of the Water Snake and the female energy has awoken. Phew, the cosmos are stirred up! I have been feeling some of these changes and stumbled across Mystic Mamma yesterday during my afternoon surf time. Mystic Mamma, pools and distills the best information out there on the subject and if you are looking for insight or wisdom on how to navigate these wild waters, do check it out.

Image: Jordan Chamblee

Image by Jordan Chamblee via Mystic Mamma

Also, Abby and I watched this frightfully engaging documentary Resonance last night. It’s only available on Youtube, but if you have Apple TV or a gaming deice you can pipe it through your TV. Resonance takes a look at the science behind our wireless devices like our cell phones, cordless phones and Wi-Fi. The verdict is in and these devices are carcinogens-meaning they can cause cancer. Pretty scary stuff.

I love my cell phone and think we have a pretty fair and balanced relationship. I don’t have a job that requires me to check in, so I can happily go for hours not even thinking about it. But, I do love being able to share with friends and family in real time. Where would I be without photos and videos of my adorable nieces and nephew? Having done two long distance moves in less than two years I can say with absolution that it would not have been possible without my iPhone.

While the film is compelling, it did not present any practical solutions to the problem. For now, I’ve deemed our bedroom a cell phone free zone. We have pulled out our old school alarm clock and will leave our phones in the living room over night to charge-call me crazy! I’m not sure if any of this will help but if you have any suggestions, do send them my way.

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